Why the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games Marathon should be in Ballarat

Ballarat has all the credentials to host marathon events at the Commonwealth Games Victoria 2026, and is the perfect location for athletes, organisers, spectators and viewers.

In April, Ballarat was named the host city for athletics at the 2026 Games, with most events taking place at Mars Stadium.

Ballarat City Mayor Cr Daniel Moloney said the venue for the marathon events – which include the men’s, women’s and wheelchair categories – has yet to be confirmed.

“Traditionally, the Commonwealth Games marathon is run in the same city (venue) as all other athletics events, and we hope that tradition will continue in 2026,” he said.

“In the event that other locations are under consideration, the clear benefits of hosting the marathon in Ballarat should be emphasized.”

A video showcasing these benefits has been sent to key stakeholders in the Victorian Government, the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee, Commonwealth Games Australia and Athletics Australia.

The video features Cr Moloney, 2006 Commonwealth Games runner and Ballarat resident Shane Nankervis, up-and-coming Ballarat runner Gretta Ashley and City of Ballarat chief executive Evan King.

Cr Moloney said Ballarat has a long and proud tradition of distance running, from community competition to elite level competitors.

“Four decades ago, Steve Moneghetti began training on the same streets of Ballarat that we hope will host the marathons in 2026. Steve still leads them today,” he said.

“Our vision is that the legacy of these events will inspire generations of young Ballarat riders to the same heights as Steve Moneghetti and Shane Nankervis.”

A Ballarat marathon could offer the drama and excitement of a stadium finish, with the sights and sounds of a crowd of 30,000 at the Mars Stadium to entice runners to the line.

“As a volunteer at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006, the personal highlight for me was seeing Australian marathon runner Kerryn McCann enter the MCG just behind Kenyan runner Hellen Cherono Koskei,” said Cr Moloney.

“McCann was carried by the roaring crowd to victory in the final 200 metres, providing a memorable atmosphere for the athletics competition. It would be fantastic to offer athletes, live crowds and viewers around the world the opportunity to get to the stage of the 2026 marathon.”

Cr Moloney said residents of Ballarat and West Victoria would love the opportunity to see the marathon in their own backyards.

Whether it’s the tree-lined boulevard of Sturt Street, our rich array of 19th century heritage buildings in Lydiard Street, Lake Wendouree and our Botanical Gardens – Ballarat will provide an exceptional backdrop for the broadcast and excellent viewing opportunities for viewers.

“We can make sure this is the best spectator event Victoria has to offer. Sport is a way of life in Ballarat, and local fans will jump at the chance to experience a world-class event on their own streets at no cost,” said Cr Moloney.

“It would allow them to train on the competition course and acclimatize to the local conditions, and fully experience the Commonwealth Games with their own athletics team.

Most importantly, they will have necessary and immediate access to medical and support staff from the athletics team.

For athletes, Ballarat would allow the best possible preparation for running the marathon.

For event organizers, a Ballarat Marathon eliminates the requirement to temporarily house athletes and officials in a separate location or establish another hub.

“It also removes the need to duplicate the security and support logistics that we will have in place in Ballarat,” Cr Moloney said.

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